I think my story is typical. I never, ever participated in any sort of athletic activity as a young person. Not one quarter, down or inning. My driver’s license at age 16 read 6’2” and 143 pounds. I was an underweight male. I got married to Charity, another coach here, at 22 years old and worked hard to build a business and a life.
By age 34 I was fat and detrained. One morning I got out of breath while tying my shoes and decided to change it. I hired a “trainer”, restricted my calories and proceeded to lose 53 pounds. It was hard, I was constantly hungry, my bench press never went up and I was skinny fat 179 pounds.
After several years of not getting stronger, not getting to eat more food and spending tens of thousands of dollars on “trainers” I found out about Starting Strength on reddit.com. I bought the book. I studied the book. I underlined and made notes in the book. I learned the lifts from the book. I started linear progression with a buddy and learned to love it. I was stronger at the end of month one than I had ever been.
I’ve gained all of the weight back. It ain’t fat this time.
I am not a gifted strength athlete. I got a very late start in strength training. I have a kyphotic spinal curve, a short torso and long legs. As a result, squatting with good form is a terrible struggle for me. I think learning Starting Strength as my very first introduction to weight lifting (no bad habits), plus starting late and sucking a lot, makes me a better coach. It’s hard for me, so I understand where, how and why it’s hard for other trainees.
I love strength training for so many reasons.
- I think it’s the closest thing we have to the fountain of youth. It forces us to fight sarcopenia or muscle loss. It forces us to challenge ourselves in a profound way; something most people stop doing shortly after learning to ride a bicycle. Serious strength training forces us to tune into our bodies. Additionally, it changes our hormonal milieu so we are in a constant state of regeneration and repair. Aches and pains are actually reduced. We are more independent and confident. All of these things, (and a lot more), help us live a higher quality of life for years longer than the average American.
- It’s an amazing journey of self-discovery. Placing oneself under enormous stress in the laboratory environment of the strength gym teaches so much. When you put more than your bodyweight on your back and squat, you’ll learn something interesting about yourself. You may experience anxiety, fear, elation or more. Observing that in yourself is an amazing opportunity.
- You get strong. Really strong. It works. So strong that unless you go to Reynold’s house, you’ll be the strongest person in the building. Strength helps everything. You’re less likely to fall, you can open your own pickle jars, and even sex is better.
- Community. Barbell people are the nicest people. The biggest, strongest guy you meet has suffered the most. He’s been humbled over and over again. Those experiences show in the way the strength community; particularly the Starting Strength community, treats and supports each other. Kind, supportive, smart people are drawn to this sport.
I love helping people get stronger.